The consumer’s issue:
“Within the term of my extended warranty agreement, I took my car to the garage to diagnose the cause of the ABS pump failure. However, the warranty claim was unsuccessful, and I feel the business failed to identify the fault before my policy expired. I feel that I have done nothing wrong, and I should not have to pay to repair this issue.”
The accredited business’ response:
- The consumer purchased the car with a two-year warranty from us in late April 2015.
- On the 7th April 2017, the car was returned to us by the customer with the ABS light on. We scanned the vehicle for fault codes, and removed, cleaned and tightened the electrical connections to the ABS pump, which fixed the problem. We also drove the vehicle on an extended 40-mile road test, and no faults were displayed.
- In addition, on the 7th April 2017, we logged a call with the warranty company to register the ABS concern. They agreed that they would be sympathetic to future ABS faults for the next couple of months should the symptom return. This was added to the service history file for the vehicle and explained to the consumer upon collection.
- For background information, the ABS system on the customer’s vehicle performs a self-test at the start of every journey, and should a fault be detected, the instrument cluster light will illuminate.
- On the 4th October 2017, we carried out a manufacturer recall on the consumer’s vehicle. No concerns regarding the ABS light were noted by either the customer or our technician at this point.
- On the 12th March 2018, we received an e-mail from the consumer explaining that the ABS light was on, and that the vehicle was being taken to an independent MOT test centre that wanted to fit a new ABS pump.
- Unfortunately, as this was now 11 months since the expiry of the warranty in April 2017, we were unable to make a warranty claim.
- Our last e-mail to the consumer gave a summary of the situation as above, plus a goodwill offer for future work. However, we did not receive a response from the customer on this.
The adjudication outcome:
- The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator noted that the warranty administrator whom the business contacted, would only consider a claim according to the terms and conditions of the warranty agreement, and that these terms were not supplied by the consumer.
- If the business looked to make a claim without supplying sufficient evidence of failure of the pump, which at that time was not found, it is very likely that it would be declined.
- The adjudicator could not consider only whether the ABS had or had not failed at that time (April 2017), or if the first repair was a temporary action, but also had to take into account whether the business had met their obligation to diagnose the issues to the correct degree in the eyes of the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair, as well as the law.
- The adjudicator mentioned however, that The Motor Ombudsman’s Code of Practice and applicable legislation only holds the business accountable to a certain standard of care when diagnosing a vehicle, that of a reasonably skilled technician.
- If the business’ care falls below that standard, they may be liable for any costs associated with that failure. This means that the consumer needs to demonstrate that the damage was caused by the business’ failure to meet that standard i.e. the consumer needs evidence that, given the same fault code (which can apply to multiple issues and is not just indicative of the part in question failing), a reasonably skilled technician would have found evidence that proved the pump had failed and could therefore claim for the cost of the repair under the warranty.
- The consumer supplied no evidence to this effect, whereas the business had provided reasonably technical information to suggest that the ABS pump had not failed at the time of the initial repair.
- The consumer did not challenge the adjudication outcome, and the adjudicator was satisfied on balance that the business had not breached the Code of Practice or the law.
- As a result, the adjudicator requested that the business abides by their offer of goodwill, as it was more than the consumer was actually entitled to.
- The customer accepted the goodwill gesture from the business, and the case was closed.